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A Portrait of Resilience: Life at Goldwater, 1939-2013

A Portrait of Resilience:

Life at Goldwater, 1939-2013 Table Of Contents A Message from Goldwater Leadership


A Message from HHC President Alan D. Aviles 4 The Stories and Faces of Goldwater The History and Places of Goldwater

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Like No Other Place There are many qualities that distinguish Goldwater from other hospitals, but for us, there are two significant differences that make it, simply stated, like no other place. The first is that for as long as Goldwater has existed, patients, residents, and staff have always had an extraordinary relationship built on warmth and compassion; we have comforted each other, laughed, cried, and celebrated together as a family. The second is that over the years, we have maintained a robust commitment to offering services that enable patients and residents to conduct active lives despite their physical limitations, and through that commitment we opened doors and minds to discovery, independence, and empowerment. We sincerely thank all of you for making this place feel like home to anyone who entered it. Because of you, every member of the Goldwater family carries a moment of kindness or a personal touch with them that will outlast any physical facility. Thank you for making Goldwater a place that brightened spirits and healed hearts. Goldwater’s staff and leadership are committed to carrying over the best of what Goldwater has to offer in its new incarnation. The Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility will continue to provide the personalized care and exceptional services that enhance mobility and independence. The state-of-the-art facility will also perpetuate the well-known comforts and familiar special features of Goldwater, so it will still be possible to tune in to the hospital’s radio station or swap stories while getting a new style at the beauty salon. In every way, we look forward to seeing Goldwater’s staff, patients, and residents breathe life into Carter and usher in the new era of care that our residents and patients deserve. Sincerely,

Lynda D. Curtis Senior Vice President South Manhattan Healthcare Network

Robert K. Hughes Executive Director Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility


A Message From HHC President Alan D. Aviles August 21, 2013 In the years since 1973, when Henry J. Carter first came to our Coler and Goldwater facilities, his remarkable ability to inspire fellowship has helped to create a deep and abiding family bond. Hank’s compassionate and loving spirit has touched thousands of residents at Coler and Goldwater in myriad ways and been a constant source of strength, hope, and encouragement for those in struggle or uncertainty. There have been many times when his presence and faith have made all the difference in the lives of our residents. For that, and for his generosity in every way, we at HHC are eternally grateful. In those years, Hank’s Wheelchair Charities, Inc, has provided thousands of modern chairs and other transportive and assistive devices, rehabilitation units, a full gymnasium, a computer lab – all told more than $25 million of generous gifts – that have unlocked the doors to mobility, to learning, and to independence for thousands of residents. By permitting us to name our new facility the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, Hank allows us to set the bar exceptionally high to ensure that the services we are offering and the environment that we are building will be the equal of any long-term care institution anywhere. For us, there is no greater representative of compassionate, quality care than Henry J. Carter, and with Hank as our guiding spirit, we’ll do everything possible to make and keep Carter exceptional. Sincerely, Alan D. Aviles 4

A Portrait of Resilience: Life at Goldwater, 1939-2013


The Stories and Faces of Goldwater

Every family has its jokers, its worriers, its storytellers, and its caretakers, and Goldwater is no exception. The stories of those featured throughout these pages represent the hundreds of Goldwater patients, residents, and caregivers who hold the keys to our institutional memory. Goldwater’s people are the place.

Richard Coleman When Richard Coleman came to Goldwater, he was deeply depressed. He’d been Deputy Director of the New York City Records Retention Center, the second largest in the world, and had been approaching retirement; he planned to finally do some traveling with his wife. But an infection in his spine left him a paraplegic. “They put me in my bed and I stayed there two years,” he says. Two nurses kept urging him to get up, though, and finally it struck him that though he’d lost the use of his legs, he still had strong arms and a working brain. “I got up and I haven’t gone back,” he says. Coleman has made a second career for himself as an advocate for Goldwater’s residents and patients. Following the example of his friend and mentor Sunderam “Srini” Srinivasan, he became a member of the Residents’ Council and the Advisory Board, and has made numerous trips to Albany to advocate for Goldwater when budget requests are reviewed. “I do it because when it comes to speaking out, our residents – my second family – need someone to present their case.” Richard Coleman has been a Goldwater resident since 1994.


Sharon Holt

“Goldwater has done the very best they could for me over the years,” says Sharon Holt. “I am so grateful.” Sharon Holt has been a resident for four years.

Evangeline Villajuan Here’s one way to measure how medical care has changed during the time Goldwater has been in operation: while it used to be known as a place for people who couldn’t breathe without the help of an iron lung, it’s now recognized as one of the top facilities in the country when it comes to weaning patients off a ventilator. “Instead of just lying there attached to the machine, they’re actually able to get off and start to regain their independence,” says Evangeline Villajuan. “I have the opportunity to see them re-enter the community, because I live on Roosevelt Island – they become my neighbors.” She remembers one young man she helped wean from a vent. A gunshot wound when he was 22 years old had left him paralyzed, but her work and other rehabilitation got him out of bed. “He was eventually able to walk – not perfectly, but he can do it,” she says. “I’ll always remember the day he came in with his wife and baby to say hello to me. You can’t forget moments like that.” Evangeline Villajuan is a Coler-Goldwater Attending Physician and Pulmonary Specialist.

Shah Syed Shah Syed is grateful for Goldwater’s computer lab. “I had a memory problem, but the computer was a big help,” he says. “It gave my knowledge back to me.” It’s not just Goldwater’s technology that made the place special, though, he says. What matters most to him: the staff’s easy pace, gentle tone, and big heart. “The love was there,” says Syed. “The nurses were like my mother, my sisters. If something were to happen to me, who would help me? They would.” Shah Syed was a Goldwater resident for more than ten years.


Gloria Allen

It doesn’t bother Gloria Allen that dementia patients are confused – she knows how to connect with them. She reads them the newspaper, dances with them, and always makes sure to show them the courtesy and respect they deserve. “If it’s someone who used to be a professor, I say, ‘Oh, Mr. Professor, how are you today?’” she says. “Being with them is not sad for me. I enjoy every moment of it.” Gloria Allen is a ColerGoldwater Clerical Associate.


Nelson Cabrera Nelson Cabrera’s connection with Goldwater goes back a long way – he appreciated the sheer peace and beauty of the island well before he had an inkling that he’d ever work in the facility. As a teenager, he used to come to Roosevelt Island on hot summer nights to look across the water at the lights of midtown Manhattan. His first date with his wife was in front of the hospital. “That’s where we shared our first kiss,” he says. “Since then, it has been a special place for me.” Nelson Cabrera is Supervisor, Coler-Goldwater Department of Patient Relations.

Judy Crumes

Carlton Wilson “Sundays, I go to church and read my Bible,” says Carlton Wilson. On other days, he plays dominoes and other games. But his favorite activity is watching TV. “I love TV – the nice old movies and music. Sometimes I watch until two in the morning.”

Judy Crumes loves bowling. “I bowled for 39 years,” she says. “I had a lot of trophies in my apartment.” She still remembers the time that a volunteer, knowing how much she loved it, set up a makeshift bowling lane in a hallway. “I thought that was very nice of him,” she says. Judy Crumes has been a resident for four years.

Carlton Wilson has been a Goldwater resident for 15 years.


Eduardo Jaramillo Eduardo Jaramillo believes in going the extra distance to get things absolutely clean, but on his first day at Goldwater, that approach backfired. Noticing that a waterbed mattress was dirty, he took off a clip holding it in place – only to have it slide to the floor and burst. “I thought it was going to be finito for me,” he says. Instead, Jaramillo eventually earned recognition as runnerup for 2003 Employee of the Year. “Here, everyone works together – Haitian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Russian, Jamaican,” he says. “It’s beautiful.” Eduardo Jaramillo is a Goldwater Supervisor of Housekeeping.

Margaret Weeks As polio survivors grew up in Goldwater, Dr. Augusta Alba, head of the Rehabilitation Department, pushed the envelope to help them create lives that were as vital and satisfying as possible, says Margaret Weeks. Sometimes, that created problems. For instance, the Board of Education wasn’t happy about the idea of classroom mainstreaming for kids and teens with severe handicaps. “There were a few marches, but we succeeded in the end,” Weeks says. “The kids loved it, and most of them graduated.” That meant a little extra work for nurses, though no one minded. “When the kids came back from school, not only did the staff help with their medical needs, but they helped them with their homework, too,” Weeks says. Margaret Weeks was Goldwater Director of Nursing from 1954 to 1994. She returned in 2004 to work in the Utilization Review Department.


Al “Tjader” Fogle Al “Tjader” Fogle still remembers the first time he saw people in wheelchairs playing basketball, and playing hard. A nurse took him to see the game, and then to the National Wheelchair Olympics. “They were doing wheelies and going up and down curbs,” he says. “They had girlfriends on their laps – oh man, it was exciting.” Fogle was hooked. He and a few friends started a team at Goldwater, and another local team began coming by to play. “They always beat us, but no one had more fun than we did,” he says. He went on to play on community teams, and on the Rolling Knicks, a wheelchair team sponsored by the New York Knicks. He still remembers the time the Rolling Knicks played at Madison Square Garden at halftime – “The lights were so bright, and the celebrities were there. It was amazing,” he says. Finally, in 1974, he convinced Goldwater to start a basketball program. “I wish everyone with a spinal cord injury would get involved in wheelchair sports,” he says. “It makes you feel so alive.” The program disbanded in 2005, but he’s hoping to get a team together again soon. “You get in shape – you look good, you feel good,” he says. “It’s something to look forward to.” Al “Tjader” Fogle was a resident at Goldwater from 1973-75, and again from 2005-present. In between, he worked at Goldwater as a Recreation Technician.


Michael Schuster It’s hard to remember now what the early days of the AIDS epidemic were like. The disease was mysterious, brutal, and had no cure. By the mid-1980s, it was threatening to overwhelm the hospitals of New York City, and officials asked Goldwater’s administration to create an AIDS unit in the hospital. In the beginning, says Schuster, people died within a few days of admission. Doctors and nurses could only ease their patients’ suffering. But slowly, clinicians began to make progress, watching what was working elsewhere, figuring out what clinical approaches were effective, and adopting a multidisciplinary approach to delivering care. “In the early days, no one knew enough, anywhere,” he says. “We were all trying to find treatments as we went along.” Schuster watched as the discovery of antiretroviral drugs in the mid-1990s slowly transformed a death sentence into a manageable condition. “It was unbelievably satisfying when we were able to treat these patients and watch them leave alive,” he says. He has no regrets as the AIDS unit at Goldwater winds down. “Not needing this kind of unit anymore,” he says, “that’s a beautiful success story.” Michael Schuster is Goldwater Assistant Director of Infectious Disease.

Norman Joseph Norman Joseph would walk with purpose when he was at Goldwater – from his unit to the elevator, and from the elevator to the Catholic chapel. The exercise did him good, he says, as did the church service. He loved the freedom he had at Goldwater to get up and go, wherever and whenever he chose. “I could get up at midnight and take a shower if I wanted to,” he says. “I liked that.” Norman Joseph was a Goldwater resident for 12 years.


Gilliane Saint-Louis Oxtail soup. Coconut shrimp. Paella, gumbo, and jambalaya. The food at Goldwater used to be like nothing you’d expect in an institutional cafeteria, says Gilliane Saint-Louis. The cooks trained at the Culinary Institute of America and prepared dishes to please the palates of Goldwater’s melting-pot mix of patients. Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Dominican, Jamaican – there were dishes to suit them all. Now, things are different. Meals are prepared offsite and only final preparation is done at the facility. But Saint-Louis has a lunch and dinner tray dropped off daily at Goldwater’s administrative office so she can keep a close eye on the taste and presentation of the dishes. “The food is good and nutritious now,” she says. But she has fond memories of those long-ago meals. “It was very innovative,” she says. “We were rocking it in the kitchen.” Gilliane Saint-Louis is a Coler-Goldwater Associate Director.

Jenny Rosario Jenny Rosario was one of the many members of Goldwater’s staff to help with the evacuation of Coler’s residents to Goldwater during Hurricane Sandy. She remembers feeling a pressing need to move quickly – and an equally strong urge to make sure people would have what they needed when they got to safety. “One patient said, ‘Please, I can’t leave unless you get my dentures, because I won’t be able to eat,’” she says. “Another asked for his passport.” It was pitch-black in Coler at that point, and Rosario’s flashlight didn’t help all that much. “But it was important to them, so it was important to me,” she says. “So I went up four flights of stairs and got the items for them. They left with smiles on their faces.” Jeannette Rosario is Coler-Goldwater Director of Patient Relations.


Yolanda Bruno When Yolanda Bruno started working at Goldwater as a staff psychiatrist, she was used to helping people with what were, in retrospect, relatively manageable problems. “I came from an outpatient clinic where I did talk therapy. And my first patient here had just had brain surgery – he wasn’t going to be able to do talk therapy, that’s for sure. That’s when I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” she says. But working with Goldwater’s patients has offered her numerous lessons on a professional and personal level. During the early days of the AIDS unit at Goldwater, no one knew much about what the virus was doing to the brain and the body, and even less about how to stop it. But as her patients wasted away, she says, they refused to give up. She remembers going to see one patient who was days away from death. “He told me, ‘I’m hanging in there, Dr. Bruno,’” she says. “And I had to walk away, because of the tears in my eyes. Those patients wanted to live until the last moment.” Goldwater is a place of small gains, but stay here for a while and you start to recognize just how impressive those gains are, she says. “Everyone who comes to Goldwater has lost something. But the human spirit is resilient.” Yolanda Bruno is Coler-Goldwater Medical Director.

K.L. Vasudevaraju “Coler-Goldwater is the bestkept secret in New York,” says K.L. Vasudevaraju. In an acutecare hospital, people come in, get better, and leave. Patients here have conditions that take months or years to heal, or may never get better at all. “To make their quality of life even a little better is a major challenge and takes a huge amount of teamwork,” he says. “But we are treating a group of patients who are really in need and can’t get care elsewhere. That’s very, very gratifying.” K.L. Vasudevaraju is Goldwater Chief of Hospital Medicine and Coler-Goldwater Deputy Medical Director.


Virginia Granato Virginia Granato was in elementary school when she woke up one Sunday feeling not quite right. It was 1955 and the last great polio epidemic was sweeping the east coast; kids across the country were getting Jonas Salk’s stillexperimental polio vaccine. Granato was scheduled to get a shot the following week, but she never made it. “Within days I was in an ambulance, heading to the hospital,” she says. The virus paralyzed Granato from the neck down, and she spent two months in an iron lung. Eventually she came to Goldwater, where she stayed for more than six years. As she grew she moved into a Young Adult unit, which was designed to be a sort of stepping stool into the world at large. “We were like any other teenagers,” she says. “It was a great place to grow up.” Granato met her husband at Goldwater when he came to visit another patient, and they married in 1970; the hospital helped them get their first apartment. But she kept her connection to Goldwater, working as a secretary in the bioelectric wheelchair repair shop and later becoming a member of the auxiliary. “Goldwater taught you how to fend for yourself,” she says. Virginia Granato was a postpolio patient at Goldwater; her longest stay was from 1962 to 1970. She is a member of Goldwater Auxiliary and Acting Chair of the Goldwater Community Advisory Board.


Rodney Howard

When Rodney Howard became a Patient Escort at Goldwater, he had a lot to learn. When he took one patient to Bellevue Hospital, for instance, Howard didn’t realize he needed to make sure the patient followed him off the elevator. “I turned around to see the elevator door shut and the patient gone!” he says. Luckily, Howard found his patient and went on to eventually become Supervisor of Patient Escorts. The job has allowed him to put his son through medical school. “Goldwater gives you an opportunity,” Howard says. “If you work hard, you will advance.” Rodney Howard started as a Goldwater Elevator Operator and has been Goldwater Supervisor of Patient Escorts for 15 years. He was Goldwater Employee of the Year in 2013.


Arthur Burns Arthur Burns has been practicing for a motorized wheelchair. “It’s a matter of days before I get it,” he says. “My name is already on it. I can’t wait.” But even in his regular wheelchair, he’s a busy man. “You’ve got movies here, and bingo – I love that,” he says. “There are so many different things you can do, you don’t have to be bored. So many things, I can’t remember all of them. I participate in everything they have to offer.” Arthur Burns has been a Goldwater resident for four years.

Michael Buchholz

Mabel Reese Mabel Reese spends her days giving Goldwater’s patients and residents a feeling of normalcy. It’s her job to wash, cut, and style hair, and to give men a shave. It’s satisfying work, she says – she knows that few things are more pleasurable than a nice shampoo, and the feeling of being spruced up is priceless. “It boosts the ego and helps them go on with their lives,” Reese says. “It makes me happy to help people feel better about themselves.” Mabel Reese is a Goldwater Beautician.

Michael Buchholz has been at Goldwater through a major merger, a mighty flood, and countless renovations. He’s watched it become home for people who have spent decades here, and seen it change the lives of highschoolers who came for just an afternoon in order to play in Hank Carter’s basketball league. He knows every inch of the place – has probably done work on most of them. As much as anyone, he understands why it’s closing. “Goldwater has served New York City well for 80 years,” Buchholz says, “but it’s got problems. For example, as every resident, patient, and staff member knows, Goldwater has no central air conditioning, and the heating system is temperamental. At Carter, there will be A/C and modern bathrooms, and all kinds of comforts and conveniences.” Michael Buchholz is a ColerGoldwater Senior Associate Executive Director.


Christine Mitchell A diagnosis of a very serious disease some years ago took Christine Mitchell by surprise. Hearing the news, she fainted – and then she decided that she wouldn’t wage what she was sure would be a losing battle against the disease. By the time she was brought to Goldwater on a stretcher, the illness had affected her brain. “I was delirious, out of my mind,” she remembers. She was hard to handle at the beginning, she says, cursing the nurses and refusing help. But eventually she started taking her medication and, little by little, began to function better. Noticing her progress, a nurse asked one night if she wanted a shower, her first since admission. “I said no, but then I thought, ‘I love my showers’ and told her I changed my mind.” That marked a kind of rebirth for Mitchell, who now gardens, uses the computer and the gym, enjoys shows, and goes to chapel daily. “I have enjoyed my time here,” she says. “To this day, when I see that nurse I say, ‘Miss Jones, thank you for asking me if I wanted a shower, because it sure did me good. It snapped me right back to reality.’” “I’m doing wonderful,” she says. “Goldwater has been a blessing to me. A great blessing.” Christine Mitchell has been a Goldwater patient since 2008.

Karen Gooding When Karen Gooding started working at Goldwater in 1983, she came as a psychology student and didn’t plan to stay long. “I told them I’m only going to be here six months, so don’t get used to me,” she says. But she could relate to the trials that patients were going through, partly because a severe case of scoliosis had left her hospitalized from the time she was 13 almost until she graduated from high school. She understood what it’s like. Gooding’s six months turned into 30 years and, she says, “There is never a dull moment. Sometimes you come in and you say ‘Oh God, another day at work.’ Then someone says, ‘Karen, look at this – I can move my toes!’ And that’s a great thing.” Karen Gooding is Goldwater Rehabilitation Medicine Assistant Coordinating Manager.


Robert K. Hughes Sometimes people are fortunate enough to know exactly where they belong, where home is. Robert Hughes realized soon after beginning work at Goldwater in 1982 that the place was the right fit for him. “I was impressed by the kind and compassionate way that staff interacted with patients and the great lengths people went to help patients and improve their lives,” he says. “It felt natural, like a caring family, and I quickly understood that that kind of environment was not only therapeutic and healthy, but was where I wanted to build a career.” Goldwater’s leadership also fostered staff development, a perspective that gave staff the opportunity to grow in their roles and responsibilities. That, Hughes believes, “played a big part in helping me progress to the position I hold today.” Now, as Executive Director and the leader of both Carter and Coler, he knows how important it is to continue the institutional values that he first discovered more than 30 years ago. “First and foremost, we treat patients and residents with compassion, kindness, and respect – the way we all want to be treated in our lives.” Along with that, he says, it’s gratifying to pass on the gift of mentorship that was given to him. “I, like so many others, gained invaluable experience from the tradition of nurturing people from within,” he says. “Now I can help new leaders emerge. I consider that uniquely rewarding.” Robert K. Hughes is Coler-Goldwater Executive Director


Shafi Alam Shafi Alam struggled with the brain injury that brought him to Goldwater from Bellevue. “If you asked me my name, it would take me a full five minutes to realize what you were asking,” he says. But the treatments at Goldwater, as well as the pace of the place and the kindness of the people he met, made a difference. These days, he’s still a resident, but he also helps out as a volunteer. “When I came here, my brain opened up,” he says. “Everything was more comfortable for me and slowly, slowly, I felt better. The name of this place is Goldwater, but it is gold for patients.” Shafi Alam has been a Goldwater resident since 2006.

Peter Yearwood There’s no question that doctors, nurses, and other staff members at Goldwater are good at their job, but that’s not what Peter Yearwood remembers most. What sticks with him are the times that people went beyond their job description to make patients and residents feel good. Like the way the nurses on his unit, B11, pulled out all the stops for a monthly game day. “Some would go into their own pockets to buy food,” he says. “Or they’d cook at home for us and bring in something special.” The extra nurturing made a big difference. “Peace of mind helps the healing process,” he says. “And that’s what I got at Goldwater.” Peter Yearwood was a Goldwater resident for nearly five years.


Carlton Burrell Carlton Burrell was a professional singer for many years before he came to Goldwater, and he stayed connected to the arts while he was there. He wrote poems, recorded songs at the radio station, and acted in a number of plays. “I survived, and for that I’m thankful,” he says. “A lot of people say that Goldwater is the best facility of its kind, and maybe they’re right.” Carlton Burrell was a Goldwater resident for six years.

Ozella Shields As a certified nursing assistant, Ozella Shields will take a patient’s vital signs, brush his teeth, style her hair – whatever someone needs to feel better. “They call me Mother Shields,” she says, “because I care for them.” One patient was bed-bound when she came to Shields – unable to speak, and restrained so that she wouldn’t hurt herself. Shields would have none of it. “She was in the bed too much for me, so I told the head nurse we needed to get a chair for her,” she says. When a regular wheelchair proved too difficult for the patient to manage, Shields lobbied for – and got – a motorized one. Now the patient has a boyfriend, and a plan to move into her own apartment. “I did not stop, and now she’s having a ball,” Shields says. “She’s got her life back.” Ozella Shields has been a Goldwater Certified Nursing Assistant for 32 years.


Irwin Richards There are thousands of wheelchairs at Coler-Goldwater and Irwin Richards helps ensure that people can sit in them comfortably and safely. It’s Irwin Richards’ job to fit every wheelchair to its user, building it up to prevent a patient from sliding, fixing foot and leg rests, adding and subtracting cushions as needed. He’s done it for so long that it sometimes takes just a look at a resident in bed for him to know what he needs to do; with a little work, the chair almost becomes part of a patient’s body. The job keeps Richards incredibly busy, but he loves it. “Everyone should have the opportunity to get around,” he says. “And I’m doing my part to make that happen.” Irwin Richards is a ColerGoldwater Medical Equipment Repair Technician.


John Papitto From the time he comes to work to the time he leaves at night, John Papitto never stops moving, delivering medicine, mail, doctors’ orders, even blood for transfusions. He covers about ten miles each day – at least, that was the distance estimated by a doctor who knew John’s routes and tracked them once, with a pedometer. “He told me that I don’t have to go to the gym,” Papitto says. John Papitto is a Goldwater Mail Messenger.

Stanlee Richards Stanlee Richards hadn’t been at Goldwater very long when the Young Adults ward opened, in 1968. It was an experiment, she remembers, designed to allow a little more independence to polio survivors and other patients and residents. “They were young, and they had young ideas,” Richards says. “They wanted to be by themselves so they could socialize.” Although she was young herself, Richards had some concerns about working in the unit. Part of it had to do with the dress code; nurses there didn’t wear uniforms, and Richards was proud of her right to wear the licensed practical nursing insignia she’d recently earned. “I thought, I’m not taking off my cap just to work with these young people!” she says. “I’d worked so hard for it. But when I got there, I felt I could help them so very much.” Richards ended up loving the atmosphere of the Young Adults unit – the social hour on Friday nights, the pantry where people could cook their own food, the community meetings in which patients picked outings and special activities. And she loved the fact that her charges found ways to live full and active lives. “They were going to school, some of them from their beds,” she says. “And some of them graduated. I saw a couple of them get married in their wheelchairs, and I saw a couple of them go home. So we helped them a whole lot, and that was wonderful.” Stanlee Richards is Goldwater Director of Nursing and a winner of New York City’s 2013 Sloan Award for Public Service.


Millicent Holness Millicent Holness knows exactly how important food is to the patients of Goldwater. “Adequate calories and protein are crucial if someone has developed a pressure ulcer or other infection,” she says.

Danny Stone Through blackouts, snowstorms, and floods, the people of Goldwater have always come through, says Danny Stone. As head of Risk Management and Patient Safety, he knows just how vulnerable Goldwater’s residents are, especially the ones on ventilators. When Hurricane Sandy sent the East River surging into Goldwater’s basement, that vulnerability was all the more apparent. Thankfully, no one had to be moved from Goldwater, in part because of the staff’s ability to pull together. “Administrators, drivers, clerks – anyone who was in the basement at the time grabbed a squeegee mop to push the water away, so we could safely switch over to a backup generator,” he says. “Whenever you have a crisis, you worry that you’re not going to have enough staff. But they always come in.” Daniel Stone is a ColerGoldwater Associate Director.


Holness remembers one resident who’d developed a severe pressure ulcer. “He was difficult,” she says. “He wouldn’t get out of bed, turn over, or eat the right foods, but I stopped by to talk with him every day.” She talked with him about how he could spice up his meals, and asked his friends to come by at lunchtime so that he wouldn’t feel forgotten. “It took a long time, years altogether, but I stayed with him from day one until the pressure ulcer healed,” she says. “That was very satisfying.” Millicent Holness is the Goldwater Supervising Dietitian, and has been a ColerGoldwater Nutritionist for more than 26 years.

Jeff Rogoff Jeff Rogoff oversees many of the physical items that help Goldwater run smoothly, from massive pieces of equipment to the flimsiest bits of stationery. But in his years at Coler-Goldwater, he’s learned that machines and devices are not enough to fulfill the mission of caring for people with deep and lasting needs. “Bricks and mortar make a building,” he says. “But what matters are the people inside.” Jeffrey Rogoff is a ColerGoldwater Associate Executive Director.

Francine Benjamin

“It was scary when I got here,” says Francine Benjamin, who came to Goldwater after a surgical error at another hospital. “But Goldwater is a godsend. It heals a lot of people.” Francine Benjamin has been a resident for seven years.


Osvaldo Lynn

Osvaldo Lynn has been serving meals at Goldwater for nearly 50 years, but that’s not the only way he contributes to the wellbeing of patients and residents. Lynn sings Spanish gospel music, and has performed in churches all around the world – and in the rooms and halls of Goldwater. “I used to bring a big radio and put my cassettes in for accompaniment and sing room by room,” he says. “People sometimes tell me my songs really touch them and remind them of their childhood. They tell me I revive them.” Lynn is sometimes asked why he sings in the halls of the hospital when his voice could draw crowds in concert halls. “I always say that my singing is part of my job,” he says. “Wherever I sing, it’s a message about God, expressed through music.” Osvaldo Lynn is a Goldwater Dietary Aide.


James Williams After nerves were severed during a simple surgery on his back, the doctor said physical therapy should help James Williams walk again. “But he said it could take a year, or it could take twenty years,” Williams says. He mostly stayed in bed for two years, woozy from the meds he was on and half expecting that one day he would simply wake up and be able to walk. “But it doesn’t work that way,” he says. “Finally one day I said ‘I’m going to beat this thing.’ It hurt every time I moved, but I kept doing it. I think the doctor was happier than me to see that I was finally moving.”

Mike Michels Mike Michels has gotten a lot of joy from volunteering at Goldwater. One time, working with a support group, he helped a resident who was desperate to reconnect with his son. They hadn’t spoken in years – ever since a disagreement had driven them apart.

Williams is walking again; in fact, he’s pushed his physical therapy team to allow him to add distance faster than they first prescribed. “How else am I going to get better?” he says. “I made a deal with them that if I feel tired I’ll sit down.” “My doctors and therapists always had faith in me,” he says. “I never gave up, and they never gave up on me.” James Williams has been a Goldwater resident since 2009.

“We knew that the son had been in the military and that he’d lived in Detroit,” Michels says of his group’s detective project. “We wrote to automobile industry unions and government agencies; it took a while but doing something constructive kept the patient involved and hopeful.” Finally, Social Security responded. They had the son’s address and would forward a letter from the resident. Months went by. “Finally, a letter from Michigan arrived,” Michels says. “It was from the son, and the first sentence was, ‘Dear Dad, I’m so glad to hear you’re still alive.’ Can you imagine?” Myron (Mike) Michels has been a Goldwater volunteer since 1985 and a President of the Goldwater Auxiliary.


David Stracker

When David Stracker came to Goldwater, he needed help, and that was what he got. “I was a zombie – I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move my arms,” he says. “But I got A-1 care in an A-1 place.” David Stracker has been a Goldwater resident for five years.

Gerenildo Santos Gerenildo Santos has worked at Goldwater for nearly 30 years, scrubbing floors, washing walls, and doing whatever else was needed to keep things clean and germ-free. He’s proud of what he does – and proud, too, that the job enabled him to educate his son, a computer engineer. “Goldwater let me provide for my family,” he says. Gerenildo Santos has been a Goldwater Building Services Institutional Aide since 1985.


Floyd R. Long

Floyd Long had studied health services administration, but he’d never been in a long-term care institution until he did an internship at Goldwater in 1991. He quickly noticed that many of the residents – especially the young ones who were there because of trauma from things like a motor vehicle accident or gunshot wound – were a lot like him. “These were young people, very close to my age,” he says. “They liked the same things that I liked, from music to movies to books. It let me appreciate the full range of a disabled person.” Those early days continue to shape the way he interacts with residents and patients. Part of his job is to make sure that operations comply with health codes, standards and best practices, but it’s his mission to figure out how to make each resident’s life better. “Residents here see themselves as individuals,” he says. “So I look at them as individuals, and try to get them what they need.” Floyd R. Long is Coler-Goldwater Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer.


Jerrel Slade It’s important for Jerrel Slade to convey how special a man Henry Carter is. Hank Carter got Slade the motorized wheelchair that allows him to travel to schools and youth centers in Harlem and other areas, to talk with kids and teens about the need for education and self-knowledge – teens about the age of the kid who shot him as he stepped out of an elevator nearly two decades ago. In fact, Slade says, Carter has provided Goldwater with more motorized wheelchairs than can be found in any other facility in the country, along with other assistive tools and devices too numerous to name. “Whether you’re blind, can’t talk, or can’t use your hands, he’ll help to improve your life,” Slade says of Carter. But money and material things are not as important as other things that Carter shares, Slade says – his time, his heart. A few years ago, he says, his mother’s church group planned to give Carter a humanitarian award. Unfortunately, Carter had another commitment that day: he’d been invited by former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. But Carter knew that Slade had just lost his father, who had also been a patient at Goldwater, and that the church ceremony would be deeply meaningful to the family. “He canceled his D.C. trip, and instead went to a church in BedfordStuyvesant to receive an award from my mother’s women’s group,” Slade says. “I thought that was so wonderful of him.” “He is one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. And because of him, my life is great.” Jerrel Slade has been a Goldwater resident since 1994.


Daniel Urena

“I am very grateful for what they did at Goldwater,” says Daniel Urena. “They helped me so much and gave me a good life.” Daniel Urena has been a resident for seven years.

Margaret Rivers Margaret Rivers derives a great deal of satisfaction from using the power of music to improve patients’ lives. She oversees the Music & Memory program, in which dementia patients are given iPods loaded with music chosen according to their age, background, culture, and preference. The music somehow reaches under the dementia, she says, engaging and settling even the most agitated residents. She remembers one patient in a semi-vegetative state who spent her days sleeping. “But she would stand up when her music started – it would make the hair stand up on my arms,” Rivers says. “And when the music was over, she would lay down and go back to sleep.” Margaret Rivers is a ColerGoldwater Associate Executive Director.

Roslyn Fernandez Roslyn Fernandez heard a call to serve, and she’s been answering it for nearly 40 years. She left her job with an insurance company on November 13, 1976, in order to take care of her granddaughter. On November 14, she started volunteering at Goldwater. Some years ago she noticed that one patient had trouble feeding himself – sometimes she’d see his meal sitting untouched for hours. “So I decided that I was going to be the person to feed him every day,” she says. One morning she wasn’t feeling well, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the commitment she’d made. “I got out of bed, put a coat on over my nightgown, and went up the back way. And I fed this gentleman,” she says. “I just felt that it was something that I was supposed to do.” Fernandez, 92, still comes to Goldwater nearly every day. “When I help,” she says, “it’s a blessing to me.” Roslyn Fernandez has been a Coler-Goldwater volunteer for 37 years, is Vice President of the Coler Auxiliary, and a member of the Goldwater Community Advisory Board.



Bill Jones Not many hospitals have their own radio station, but Goldwater has had one since 2002. That’s thanks to patient advocate Sunderam “Srini” Srinivasan, who passed away in December 2012, says Bill Jones. Jones oversees the Departments of Medicine, Nursing, and Psychiatry, among other things – and the radio station. Srinivasan came to him with the idea, Jones says, and they got a grant from the United Hospital Fund to establish it. The station took off so quickly and created such excitement among the residents that when the President of the Fund came out to see it, he decided to nearly double the size of the grant. There were ten different radio shows, run by patients, residents, and the occasional patientstaff partnership. “You could see patients just blossom,” Jones says. “The waiting list to participate was so long that the only way to get a slot was to wait for someone to be discharged.” Bill Jones is a Coler-Goldwater Senior Associate Director.

Efraim Cohen Efraim Cohen feels the weight of his responsibility. It’s his job to keep track of each of the 60,000-plus keys in use at the facility, and to fix or replace them as needed. The rules are very strict for the keys used to lock up controlled substances, but Cohen treats all Goldwater’s keys with care. If the facility needs a lock opened – say, because a patient was taken to another facility for surgery – he won’t do it unless he’s accompanied by hospital police so that the patient’s belongings are protected at all times. Cohen’s dedication has led to a backlog of unused vacation days. “For 15 years, I have used few sick days, and I don’t take too many holidays,” he says. “This place – I’m attached to it. It’s true, I get a salary. But besides that, the patients are very important to me.” Efraim Cohen is the Goldwater Locksmith.


Lionel Dorsey When Lionel Dorsey first came to Goldwater, he was critically ill. He was also angry and isolated – not an easy patient. “The staff thought I was the meanest guy ever,” he says. But slowly he started to trust a few of the people he met. “God sent me an angel in my nurse, Minerva Roman. There wasn’t any phoniness about her, and I respected that,” he says. Now, Dorsey says he’s beaten the odds. He’s alive, he’s feeling good, and he’s very grateful for the care he has received at Goldwater. “People went through hell with me to get me to where I’m at now,” he says. “They made me want to live.” Lionel Dorsey has been a Goldwater patient and resident for 15 years.

Pat Richie Pat Richie never gets tired of seeing what patients and residents do when they get a camera or a paintbrush in their hands. “They’re very creative,” she says. “I learn a lot from them.” Still, she says, the most important thing is not the photograph or painting but the act of producing it. “It gives you fifteen minutes of not thinking about what’s going on inside of you,” Richie says. “Just fifteen minutes, but maybe that’s all you need.” Pat Richie is a Goldwater Therapeutic Recreation Activity Therapist.


Opal Goodridge The dental program at Coler/ Goldwater is a critical part of good overall care, says Opal Goodridge. Good dentistry can make it easier for a resident to eat right, or even to use a tongue drive to operate a wheelchair. Recently, Goldwater dentists were able to completely rehabilitate one patient’s mouth – doing gum surgery, root canals, and creating a bridge to replace 12 teeth. “He was able to chew better, so his diet improved,” Goodridge says. “And it made him so much more confident and assured. His whole outlook changed.” Equally important to Goodridge is her role in overseeing the dental residency program at Goldwater, in which newly minted dentists spend 12 months getting hands-on experience in treating patients with special needs. It’s a program with a double benefit, she says: it serves Goldwater patients and helps spread the Goldwater approach beyond the hospital. Opal Goodridge is ColerGoldwater Chief of Dentistry.


Pulintanath Rajeswari When Pulintanath Rajeswari came to Goldwater from India, she had a severe case of culture shock. The way people dressed, ate, and spoke were all so different from what she was used to. But the people at Goldwater made her feel comfortable. “This was a home away from home,” says Mrs. R., as everyone calls her. “I did not feel I was in a different country – everyone was so welcoming and always willing to help. I don’t think I could have gotten that kind of support anywhere else.” Ten years later, when her parents came from India to visit, Mrs. R.’s co-workers came running to give hugs and take pictures. Her mother was overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome – and just in case Mrs. R. might still contemplate a job switch, she offered her advice. “Please,” her mother said, “do not ever leave that facility. It is the place for you.” Pulintanath Rajeswari is Coler Director of Nursing

Harrison Fullerton

“This is one of the best nursing homes in the world,” says Harrison Fullerton. “All the Christmas parties, Mother’s Day parties, birthday parties – there have been lots of good times. And when Sandy came in, it was Goldwater that rescued Coler, Bellevue, and other hospitals. God bless Goldwater.” Harrison Fullerton has been a Goldwater resident for 23 years.


Daniel Santosh

There are more than 750 nurses at Goldwater, and Daniel Santosh is in charge of coordinating all their schedules. Putting the puzzle together can be challenging, even with the help of a computer program – and as soon as he’s finished, he’s likely to get a call that someone is sick or needs to take a day off. He tries to accommodate requests whenever possible. “I’m always busy,” he says. “It never stops.” Daniel Santosh is Goldwater Nursing Department Coordinating Manager.

Susan Tadique If you work for Susan Tadique, it’s not enough for you to know your job. She wants to make sure you know your co-workers’ jobs, too. That way, you can step in if needed. “At other places, everyone just does their work and goes home,” she says. “Here, we’re all watching each other’s back. We help each other be the best we can be.” Susan Tadique is a Coler-Goldwater Senior Associate Director of Nursing.


Theresa Williams Theresa Williams came to Goldwater because she couldn’t stand feeling that she was a burden to her sisters. “They saw me not eating, not taking my medication, crying, and hurt,” she says. “So I came, but at first I was thinking, ‘I’m a person with disabilities; there’s no life for me. I will just sit there and die.’” But she started making friends, close ones. And slowly, she began enjoying her life, making business cards and posters in the computer lab, volunteering, and helping other residents who had trouble communicating their needs. One friend kept nudging her to go to school – almost daring her. And one day, she took the dare. “I realized, wait a minute – even though I’m disabled, I still have my brains,” she says. “I got on the bus, went to LaGuardia [Community College], took the entrance exam, and aced it.” Now she is studying business administration, and dreams of having her own business one day. Goldwater will always have a place in Williams’ heart. “I wish I had a lot of money,” she says. “I would have a party and invite all the people who made me who I am, and say thank you for getting me to this place.” Theresa Williams has been a Goldwater patient since 2003. She is pursuing an Associate Degree in Business Administration from LaGuardia Community College.


Allison Felsher Allison Felsher gives people their voices back. She has many ways of doing that – getting speech therapy for a stroke survivor, for instance, or giving an ALS patient a device that can be made to speak by using eye movements. Ventilator patients can get a speaking valve for their tracheostomy tube – and presto, they can talk to their loved ones, sometimes after many months of enforced silence. “That first day you pop on a speaking valve, everyone in the room always tears up,” she says.

Steve Kozar

Roosevelt Island is an awfully small place for two completely independent chronic care facilities, and by the mid-1990s it made sense for Coler Memorial Hospital and Goldwater Memorial Hospital to work as one. But the 1996 merger was challenging, remembers Steve Kozar. Each facility had its own way of doing things, from monitoring patients to picking chemicals for cleaning, and it took time for people to become comfortable with the new arrangement. “When we finally got the feeling of being a family, it was really rewarding,” Kozar says. “It felt good to take two cultures and make a new one.”

The job never gets old. “I love what I do as much today as the day I started,” she says. “I get incredible satisfaction knowing that I am helping someone come out of a shell.” Allison Felsher is Coler-Goldwater Director of Speech and Audiology.

Steve Kozar is a Coler-Goldwater Associate Director.


Maria Witherspoon Maria Witherspoon contracted pneumonia one winter, and it kept her in bed for two years. Eventually, she improved enough to get up – and soon after, she was able to start using a motorized wheelchair. “I was so happy when I got my wheelchair and I didn’t need someone to push me anymore,” she says. “I thank God for Hank Carter. He is my brother.” Maria Witherspoon has been a Goldwater resident since 1981.

Miriam Pineda You can’t grow in any profession without stumbling along the way – but at many institutions, missteps are frowned upon. Not at Coler-Goldwater. “I always had superiors who supported me, so if I made mistakes I learned from them,” says Miriam Pineda. “It was a culture of friendship, and very nurturing. It gave me the room to grow up, professionally.” Miriam Pineda is a Goldwater Associate Director of Nursing.


Glen Womack

When Glen Womack lived at Goldwater, he appreciated the fact that nurses and doctors let him be independent. “I would go out all the time,” he says. He also appreciated the way that they’d check up on him when he called in. “They’d always ask, ‘Do you have your medicine?’ I liked that. It made me feel like they cared about me.” Glen Womack was a Goldwater resident from 2006 to 2013.


Pamela Hargrow Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to care for people who have serious and lasting disabilities. Doctors and nurses and other staff members aren’t enough. You also need a legion of volunteers, and Pam Hargrow is their leader. She’s responsible for all 290 volunteers at ColerGoldwater, reaching out to enlist them and finding the best way to use their gifts and interests. When it’s a good match, the facility and the volunteer both benefit, she says. Hargrow’s pleasure is unmistakable when she talks about a program she started that brings in deaf students as volunteers. “These kids have a hard time getting job experience,” she says. “I knew this was a good thing, and something God wanted me to do. The day I got approval for the program was the best day of my life.” But Hargrow feels a connection with every volunteer that comes to Coler-Goldwater. Everything they do matters, she says, whether it’s reading the newspaper to a patient, teaching a resident to crochet, or just sitting with someone who’s non-responsive. “Even if someone is just there to scratch a patient’s cheek or turn on the TV, it makes a whole world of difference,” she says. “And that’s what we’re here for.” Pamela Hargrow is ColerGoldwater Director of Volunteer Services.


Felicia Davis

“I like taking care of my patients and making sure they’re okay,” says Felicia Davis. “When you finish your work and your patients look good, you know you’ve done what you needed to do.” Felicia Davis is a Goldwater Nurse’s Aide.

Vesahida Rodriguez Vesahida Rodriguez was depressed when she came to Goldwater, and she’s had more than her share of sadness in her time here: her own daughter ended up on a vent a couple of years ago because of complications after an operation. But she’s happy in spite of it all, she says, and feels that the hospital is a beautiful place, the people are nice, and bingo, dominoes, and other activities are enjoyable. “All the time, I’m laughing,” she says. “God doesn’t like to see us cry.” Vesahida Rodriguez has been a Goldwater resident since 2005.


The History and Places of Goldwater

The Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility is a different kind of medical facility. It’s a hospital – it says so in its name – but it’s also a world where caring for people is not just a slogan, it’s an idea that lives deeply in the DNA of the place.

It looks a bit old-fashioned – like a place that’s served people in need for 75 years should – but it’s filled with some of the most advanced medical technology available today. It treats patients whose health conditions leave them fragile and needy, or even utterly reliant on their caregivers, but its mission is to help them become as independent as possible, and to build a fulfilling life regardless of their apparent limitations. Despite its contradictions, Goldwater makes complete sense to anyone who’s spent time there. “This place is all about heart and soul,” says Executive Director Robert Hughes. “It’s all about making connections on a very human, community level.” The facility’s physical character supports the idea of a therapeutic community. Goldwater has long, sunlit halls (in the old days, they made for great wheelchair races), and a million-dollar view of Manhattan. Outside, cherry trees line the road, and from just beyond the doors you can hear the East River lap at its shores and watch it flow strong but calm. Back inside, quiet chapels of many faiths welcome patients, as do a well-equipped gym, a one-of-a-kind computer lab, a radio station, and a rec room complete with pool table and television. But it’s not a quiet,

Aerial view of Goldwater, early 1980s.


During the 1950s polio epidemic, Goldwater’s iron lung helped patients to breathe.

Volunteers help a resident pick out a new outfit, 1960s.

Sing-along with Recreation Activity Therapist Paul Sachs.


sad place; the halls bristle with energy and resound with conversation. Music, art, a trip to the beauty parlor, a good card game, nutritious meals, and good companionship are all important elements in keeping the days full.

Dental checkups, 1970s.

Velma Small, Mail and Messenger Department, delivers a smile with every letter.

Staff members – there are more than 1,000 – move with purpose and direction – they have a lot of caring to attend to. Nurses are everywhere (they are the secret backbone of every hospital) and at Goldwater, patients call the special nurses “mother,” (like the nurse who has been there for 44 years). Physicians and other clinical personnel frequently go above and beyond, working around standard operating procedure when it’s the best thing for their patients. Goldwater’s Idea It’s not an accident that Goldwater is a different kind of place. Indeed, it was created to be just that. Back then, as now, hospitals were good at helping people with what are called acute problems – a disease or other medical condition that comes on suddenly and that doctors can cure or at least improve, like a broken bone or a heart attack. But some patients have more stubborn issues, problems that can be managed but not fixed or even controlled enough for a return to normal, everyday life.


Party time at one of the facility’s popular BBQs.


Resident James Williams takes steps toward rehabilitation and recovery.


These patients were overlooked and undertreated in traditional hospitals, realized Dr. Sigismund Schulz Goldwater, the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Hospitals at the time. He had an idea about a way to remedy that: create a facility devoted to people who would need care for a long time – months, years, decades, possibly the rest of their lives. Dr. Goldwater picked an island in the East River as the perfect site for his hospital. Welfare Island, as Roosevelt Island was then called, was not exactly bustling. It was home to a penitentiary that was scheduled for demolition, along with a decommissioned smallpox hospital that had been turned into a nursing school, and the ruins of the New York City Lunatic Asylum. The land might have been ripe for the taking if not for the fact that Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, the “master builder” of New York, wanted the island as a recreational area for the city. Moses almost always got what he wanted – his decades of influence helped shape New York City and its suburbs. But surprisingly, he lost this battle. The Welfare Island Hospital for Chronic Diseases opened in 1939, and was soon renamed Goldwater Memorial Hospital. You could chart the history of disease in the United States since then by the waves of patients deposited at

Dietary employees prepare a nutritious breakfast for residents.

A staff librarian makes a reading suggestion to a resident, 1950s.


Goldwater’s doors. First came tuberculosis, a disease that was easily transmitted in the packed tenements and streets of New York City. One reason Goldwater was designed to provide tubercular patients plenty of healing fresh air and easy access to strolls along the river was that those were just about the only weapons doctors wielded against the disease at the time. It wasn’t until the middle of the century that researchers finally started to develop effective anti-tuberculosis drugs, and the number of TB cases began to drop. “Only your hairdresser knows for sure,” at the facility’s beauty salon, 1960s.

The greenhouse is often a hotbed of activity and accomplishment.


Nurturing Independence Unfortunately, the arrival of polio created more patients with complex and ongoing medical debilities. Polio is a particularly vicious disease, because it goes after the young. With the big epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s, Goldwater’s beds were filled with children and teens who seemed to have had a lifetime’s worth of opportunity ripped away. But that’s not quite the way it worked out. “We really focused on giving patients the medical and social support they needed so that they could achieve their dreams,” says Augusta Alba, who was head of respiratory rehabilitation at Goldwater for many years. (Alba, who came to Goldwater in 1957, retired in 2009.) That meant figuring out ways to help them

Residents polish computer skills in the state-of-theart computer lab.

A Goldwater resident competes in a wheelchair relay race, 1970s.


Mike Acevedo oversees the repair and maintenance of more than 1,000 wheelchairs.


maximize their time off respirators (one of Alba’s methods: a technique called frog breathing, in which a paralyzed patient uses the tongue and throat to push air down into the lungs). It also meant helping them get back to the business of living, no matter the obstacles in their way.

Dr. Alba dedicated more than 50 years to the health and rehabilitation of Coler-Goldwater’s patients and residents.

In the 1950s, a vehicular elevator lowered cars down onto Roosevelt Island from the 59th Street Bridge. Here, a group of doctors by the elevator.

Teachers came regularly to Goldwater to hold classes, but that wasn’t enough for many patients, who were restless and aching for life’s challenges. This was just before the blossoming of the disability rights movement, but Alba didn’t see why her patients should be held back. Marilyn Saviola, paralyzed by polio since age ten, wanted to go to college, so Alba helped her get accepted at Long Island University. The college made Saviola take her classes by way of speaker phone for her first year, arguing that she was too disabled to attend in person – but by the time she graduated, she was trekking across the campus on her own in her wheelchair and pushing the administration to make classrooms more accessible. To help patients like Saviola spread their wings, Alba also helped start a young adults unit in 1968. It had the look of life on the outside – the nurses wore regular clothing instead of uniforms, and there were pink and blue bedspreads on the beds. More important, it was designed to maximize the


independence of those on the unit. They could cook for themselves and make decisions about their own activities, and if they had classes to attend, the staff would help get them ready on time. For many of these survivors, it was a steppingstone to an apartment in the community. “The patients had freedom and choice and the ability to live the way they wanted to,” Alba says. “They ran the show.”

Literary resources are plentiful. Here, a resident reads at a patient library in the 1970s (above), and staff does research in the Medical Library in 2013 (right).

A Safety Net For The City

Visiting the podiatry clinic, early 1970s.

If polio asked a lot of Goldwater’s heart, another epidemic demanded resilience and a willingness to dive into the unknown. It can be hard to remember now just how terrifying AIDS was in the early 1980s. All people knew at first was that a strange new disease was killing people; there was no cure, the cause was unknown, and no one was certain how or how easily it was transmitted. And it was bringing the city’s hospitals to the brink of disaster. “The burden on the healthcare system was tremendous – it was overwhelming,” says Dr. Michael Schuster, an infectious disease specialist at Goldwater. So the city turned to Goldwater and Coler for help: Would they start taking AIDS patients? They would, although at first they could offer little more than hospice care. A couple of beds in a single room at


A CT scan in Goldwater’s radiology department.

Mayor Edward I. Koch at Goldwater’s 50th anniversary celebration, 1989.


Gloriadenese VanGennip, Clinical Lab Tech, focuses at the facility’s busy lab.


Goldwater turned into a whole AIDS unit, and then more, until the hospital housed more than a hundred patients with the disease. Doctors were improvising, figuring out on the fly what kind of treatments helped, how to deliver them in a long-term care setting, and how to accommodate all the desperately sick people who needed admission. (At one point there was even a miniature prison infirmary in the back of the ward for HIVinfected inmates from New York’s prison system, who had sued the state to get better care for their illness.) As patients began to live longer, Schuster and his colleagues devised a team approach that treated the medical, psychological, emotional, and social dimensions of the disease. “We were regularly visited by city and state officials, who’d take notes about what we were doing,” he says. “We taught them what AIDS patients’ day-today medical needs were and how we met them, which ended up as the basis for public policy on nursing home care for patients with AIDS.”

A Goldwater resident receives dental work, 1970s.

A chef prepares a warm meal for employees in the staff cafeteria, 1980s, which later became known as Cafe Goldwater.

Goldwater’s Guardian Even before AIDS had been tamed, though, Goldwater was already grappling with a different kind of epidemic. Gun violence had overtaken the city; it was brutal, often random, and, like many other epidemics, targeted those


who had the fewest resources to protect them. It cut down scores or even hundreds of healthy, active young men each year, like Jerrel Slade, who walked into disaster when an elevator door opened. “I was visiting someone in Brooklyn, and when I got off at the eleventh floor I was approached by a young man with a semi-automatic handgun,” says Slade. “I asked him, ‘What are you going to do – shoot me?’ And to my surprise, he shot twice.”

Hank Carter stands tall outside the facility at dusk.

Goldwater clinicians consult on an X-ray, early 1970s.


Once again, Goldwater was there as a safety net, for Slade and the many others like him, including one patient whose misfortune ushered in a new era at the facility. Al “Tjader” Fogle was just standing on a street in Queens the day his life changed. “Someone ran past me and a guy took a shot at him,” he says. “He missed, and shot me in the neck.” Fogle hadn’t been at Goldwater long before his old friend Hank Carter started to visit. Carter’s not a person who would come see a hospitalized friend just once, though, or to keep to himself when he passes through. He became friendly with a number of residents, and soon he had agreed to see what he could do to raise a little money to help them out. Just a gospel show at first – a small event so that residents could take a few day trips and have a barbecue or two. But Carter didn’t stop.


Resident Thomas Weert is a regular DJ at the facility’s patient-run radio station, where listeners hear everything from oldies to reggae.


Public institutions generally don’t have the donors that make life more comfortable at private hospitals, but in Hank Carter, Goldwater had a guardian angel. He found donors and supporters that perennially help with fundraising (Nike has been a staunch ally) and kept coming up with events and ideas that strengthened the funding process: more gospel shows (with the biggest gospel singers around), exhibition basketball games (every New York City hoops great has been part of a Carter tournament), and annual dinners, often with sports stars, celebrities, and other public figures who want to be there to offer help. As Wheelchair Charities found ways to provide funds, it changed what it was like to live at Goldwater. As they became available, there were motorized wheelchairs – for someone who’s paralyzed, a motorized wheelchair means a new kind of freedom. And later, as wheelchair technology advanced, Hank Carter and Goldwater kept pace, making sure that if a patient needed a chair that could be controlled with a toe, the tongue, or even as introduced in the past few years, by directing the eye, it too was available. Carter brought in computers, too, providing a different kind of access to the world, opening up residents’ lives beyond the institution. In

A clean shave at the facility’s barber shop, 1960s.

Residents attend a service at the Catholic Chapel, one of Goldwater’s many places of worship.


A dietary aide pours coffee for patients, 1950s.

Coler-Goldwater attending physicians pose with Dr. K.L. Vasudevaraju, Chief, Hospital Medicine.

computer labs that are updated every two years, residents design posters and business cards, keep up with news from around the world, and stay in touch with friends. His funds built a greenhouse, where residents can dig their hands into the dirt, breathe the warm garden air, and watch as their seedlings grow. Digital cameras for patients in photography classes, vans fitted out for day trips, special beds for patients with bedsores, a resident gym, augmentative and alternative communication technology, and state-of-the-art physical and occupational therapy equipment – and that’s just a sampling. “All you have to do,” says Director of Nursing Stanlee Richards, “is let Hank know about a patient’s need and he’ll find a way to fill it.” “Hank Carter is a truly caring man,” says Claude Ritman, who was Goldwater Executive Director from 20032009. “He has an instinctive understanding of people’s needs and a deep commitment to serve, coupled with an unerring sense of how to get things done.” Ritman goes on, “No fancy organization, no administrative overhead, just a man doing good works and inviting others to join him. It succeeds because he has this way about him – people just can’t say no.” Carter, of course, will tell you that he did nothing on his own. “God was in control of


Vasahida Rodriguez in her homey room at Goldwater.



everything,” he says. “Not me. God put the plan together.” For Carter, the plan has always involved more than just money. He takes the bus to Goldwater almost every day, no matter the weather. He walks the halls, saying hello, checking in with patients, residents, and staff. “You fall in love with the patients,” he says. “You fall in love with the staff.” All of which makes him, in Claude Ritman’s words “the mayor of Goldwater.”

Goldwater’s auditorium, home to many events, including gospel concerts, town hall meetings, holiday celebrations, and shows organized and put on by patients and residents.

Cafe Goldwater, the facility’s staff cafeteria, is a regular meeting place.

A New Chapter It’s been nearly 75 years since Goldwater’s doors opened. This fall, they’ll finally close, but the facility’s mission will continue at the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility in Harlem. How could it not? After all, people from every level of society are still vulnerable to the kind of medical disaster that changes life in a second and can’t be undone; they’ll continue to need care. And the city will always need a safety net made up of doctors, nurses, and others who won’t say no, even when the problem is unclear and the way forward uncertain. Like the old Goldwater, Carter will be high-ceilinged and filled with light. A groundfloor central corridor – a new Main Street – will house the library, the beauty salon, the art studio, the radio station. Sprinkled throughout the building will be common


State-of-the-art wheelchairs, donated by Henry J. Carter’s Wheelchair Charities, Inc, increase mobility.

Goldwater entrance, late 1940s.


rooms, dining halls, computer terminals, and other patientcentered amenities. Residents’ rooms will afford more privacy and the whole facility will be simultaneously more comfortable and palpably high-tech. Clinical areas, bedrooms, and bathrooms will reflect HHC’s and Carter’s commitment to ensure that state-of-the-art care for every patient is matched by respect and love for the individual. And, with Harlem and its everincreasing cultural resources and breadth of personal services right outside the front door, Carter residents, their families and staff, will suddenly be in the midst of a vibrant, vital urban world. What won’t change is the heart of the place. Just like Goldwater, the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility will be a place where people who have lost their old lives can find their way to a new one. It will be a place that nurtures and celebrates the human spirit. And so, in the most important ways of all, Goldwater will live on.



Writer: Lisa Davis Design: Robert Dweck Photography: John Rae Production: Evoricka Robinson Technical Production: David Zackin Logistics and archival photographs: Goldwater Public Affairs, Jeanne Waller, Jose Torres, Linda Wyatt Editors: Barbara DeIorio, Olga Deshchenko, HHC Internal Communications Group

A Portrait of Resilience  

Life at Goldwater, 1939-2013

A Portrait of Resilience  

Life at Goldwater, 1939-2013